Rates of interracial romantic relationships, especially interracial marriages, have often been seen as an indication of the social distance between racial and ethnic groups in a society (Vaquera and Kao 2007). Additionally, attitudes toward such relationships have been viewed as an indicator of the overall state of race relations (Yancey 2001). By this measure, it would seem apparent that the social distance between racial and ethnic groups has decreased markedly and the current status of race relations has sharply improved in the forty years since the Loving v.Virginia case declared laws prohibiting interracial marriage unconstitutional. Since the 1967 decision, the percentage of marriages that are between two people of different races or ethnicities has increased from 0. 7% of all marriages in 1970, to 5. 4% in 2000 (Lee and Edmunston 2005).
Interracial dating and marriage are fairly new socially acceptable concepts that have been introduced into our society, but as time has progressed, more of these types of relationships are becoming prevalent.For many individuals there are multiple factors that play a significant role in determining the types of people they will date or consider marrying, such as the other person’s attractiveness, personality or personal preferences. The purpose of this study is to see which factors, in particular, influence how a person feels towards interracial relationships and whether or not certain factors influence a person’s decision to enter an interracial relationship. Specifically, I felt that there were certain factors that would be important in a person’s willingness to engage in an interracial relationship.These factors consisted of parent/family input, age, race, gender, religion, political affiliation, personal background and education level, with some of these factors weighing more heavily than others. I will also examine the attitudes towards interracial dating, especially with respect to how each individual perceived society’s view on interracial relationships, and whether or not the views of society impacted each person’s individual dating behavior. At the conclusion of the study, I hope to contribute to the existing literature regarding interracial dating and marriage.
In addition the literature I will discuss more ways how people choose or do not choose to date/marry interracially rather than just the patterns that are seen in marriage licenses, as in the previous research. Overall, I hope that the findings from this research project will provide more diverse information than what is presently cited in the research literature today, as I plan to investigate the factors that influence a person's willingness to engage in an interracial relationship and not just the trends that have been seen in interracial relationships.Literature Review Very little past research has analyzed the predictors of entering into interracial romantic relationships, which makes drawing assumptions about potential predictors somewhat difficult. There has been some research into predictors of attitudes toward such relationships, however, which provides a starting point for drawing some initial hypotheses. Additionally, there have been theoretical proposals for the existence of other predictors of attitudes and actions, which may be relevant to the current research.Recent studies have found that controlling for other variables, significant predictors of opposition to a law banning interracial marriage include being non-white, being younger, holding a liberal ideology, identifying as a democrat, having greater income, having a greater level of education, being less religious, and living outside of the South (Haider-Markel and Joslyn 2005). For some of these predictors, theoretical explanations have been proposed.
Various researchers have conducted investigations into the many aspects of this type of relationship and have concluded that an increase in interracial marriages has occurred.This increase may be the result of numerous factors, including the Supreme Court lifting of the legal restrictions on racial intermarriage in 1967, the decrease in White prejudice against Blacks, and the narrowing of the racial gap in education, income, and occupation (Kalmijn 1993). However, Kalmijn (1993) states that although these factors may have resulted in an increase in interracial marriages, other factors may counter this effect. For instance, there has been an increase in Black unemployment, a rise in the racial gap of college enrollment, and part of the Black income gain of 1960-1970 has been lost (Kalmijn 1993).Because of the greater opportunities for groups of different races to meet and interact with each other, there are more chances for interracial relationships to develop. As a result of this heterogeneity in groups, individuals are more likely to initiate contact with members of other racial groups, thus causing them to consider out group members as potential mates (Blau 1982). In addition, Blau (1982) found that the smaller the group size, the more likely the members would engage in relationships with out-group members because of the limit of potential mates.
The phenomenon of interracial marriages has become more present in American society today, mainly as a result of the closer interactions between groups of different races/ethnicities and the assimilation that has occurred between these groups. Race has been thought to predict attitudes toward interracial relationships at least partly because of fears of racial mixing among descendants of such relationships. Such concerns may have been heightened by the increasing number of children in interracial families, from 900,000 in 1970 to 3,400,000 in 2000 (Lee and Edmunston 2005).Additionally, the American population has become more racially diverse in recent years, and these two demographic shifts may initiate fears about threats to the social standing of one’s racial group. It has been theorized that perceived threats to racial group status may lead to increased prejudice and discrimination (Blau 1982), and thus we might expect that one’s race would influence their perception of interracial dating and marriage, as well as their likelihood to become involved in interracial relationships.Although many people of different races/ethnicities decide to initiate a relationship, evidence has shown that some combinations of races/ethnicities occur more often than others. For example, Kalmijn (1993) found that in most cases of marriages with a Black spouse and a White spouse, the husband was usually Black and the wife was usually White, rather than the husband being White and the wife being Black.
Kalmijn (1993) explained this finding by stating that White women were engaged in a system of “status hypergamy”, where they tended to marry up in status when choosing to marry a Black man.In fact, South (1991) used similar reasoning in his study in which he used Exchange Theory to argue that men tend to exchange their socioeconomic resources for women’s sexual and domestic services. In effect, it is presumed that women are concerned with the socioeconomic status of their potential mate, while men are concerned with the physical attractiveness of their future spouse. Overall, men have been found to be more willing to intermarry than women and along with this finding, another interesting relationship is present.Blacks and Hipics are found to be more willing than Whites to marry someone of another race/ethnicity (South, 1991). Thus, within the discussion of interracial marriage, both gender and race/ethnicity are important factors to consider when investigating this topic as they both affect the dynamic of interracial relationships. Political ideology and party identification have also been hypothesized to affect perceptions of interracial relationships, and may therefore impact the decision to enter into such a relationship.
Yancey (2001) argues that Republicans currently possess the image of social and racial conservatism, and tend to vote against the interests of African-Americans, which makes political affiliation an effective way of measuring political attitudes about race in the United States. Religiosity has also been proposed to affect attitudes toward interracial relationships and the probability of being in an interracial relationship. This may be because of the highly egregated nature of American religious institutions (Emerson 2006), that results in a lack of propinquity to those of other racial or ethnic groups for those whose social lives revolve around their church. In addition, some have argued that traditional religious organizations may promote more conservative views of race relations, while others have argued that since African-American churches have long been sources of activism, those who are heavily involved in these organizations may have stronger views about the potential negative effects of interracial relationships (Yancey 2001).Although much research has been conducted on the topic of interracial marriage, most of it concerns the patterns or trends that are present in society with respect to the number of people that have chosen to marry interracially. Each one of the research findings presented above provides a tremendous amount of insight into the phenomenon of interracial marriage and allows people to begin to understand how society has changed from being intent on separating people based on race/ethnicity to one emphasizing the importance of respecting and tolerating people of different cultures.Furthermore, these research findings help in the overall goal of interpreting the ways in which the institution of marriage has changed over time.
Research Design Data collection for this research will be designed to get the perceptions of black males for the factors that influenced them to engage in a relationship outside of their race. I will conduct in-depth qualitative interviews and field quantitative surveys for my data in order to understand the compelling attitudes towards interracial relationships.I will rely on these methods of research to examine the data of which attitudes influence the likeliness of engaging in this type of relationship. Conducting in-depth interviews are useful when you want detailed information about a person’s thoughts and behaviors (Gerson 2010). They provide much more detailed information than what is available through other data collection methods, such as surveys. They also may provide a more relaxed atmosphere in which to collect information. People may feel more comfortable having a conversation with you about their thoughts and feelings as opposed to filling out a survey.
As for the quantitative surveys, the great strength is for relatively little cost you can collect a lot of data about a number of variables from a large number of people. This is particularly true for measurement of quantitative variables using closed responses. With structured questions, data can be easily collected and analyzed using quantitative methods. Moreover, when combined with sampling, results can be generalized to large populations of people (Emerson 2010). These data collection methods will provide an overall comprehensive approach to better my research.The quantitative surveys and in-depth qualitative interviews will also provide the foundation of my analysis. I was interested in determining what factors influence people’s attitudes towards interracial relationships and I felt that this question was compelling because it would probably reflect a variety of different issues that have been addressed, including family communication and functioning, gender roles, the importance of education level and socioeconomic status.
Sample In this study, certain characteristics will set several parameters to choose who will be participants in the sample.I will primarily use black males between the ages of 18-35 that have either dated or have married outside of their race as my sample. These men are more prone of socially accepting interracial relationship and are old enough to establish themselves. To collect data, I will draw my sample within the greater Houston area. An advantage of this drawing is the diversity of the possible participant of the Houston area. This data will be valuable as Houston provides an extremely interesting setting for such research.Houston’s population is far more diverse than the general population of the United States, and closely approximates the projected demographic composition of the nation in the near future (Klineberg 2005).
Most of these participants I will know personally so initial contact will most likely be made over the phone. In order to complete the sample, I will employ the snowball method for selecting the rest of my population. In this method, participants are asked at the end of each interview to identify or refer any other person who would be willing to participate.Once I make initial contact with small group of people, I’ll then use these contacts to establish contacts with broader network (Lindsay 2008). This method is very helpful for getting response rates from difficult to reach populations. Once I have my selected sample, I will send letters to the households, describing the project and inviting the subjects to participate. I soon will follow these letters by phone call or in-house request, inviting the participants to be in the study.
During this time I will go over all the details of my study and ensure the subjects confidentiality by guaranteeing their identities will remain anonymous if they chose to participate. With this information they should be able to make an informed decision without fear of any repercussions that could occur from contributing to the research. If they agree to participate, I will then set up an appointment time at their discretion to meet up and conduct my interview. Interview Plan Roughly 30 in-depth qualitative interviews will be conducted.Questions in these interviews will be semi-structured in a way that they will be put in an order that works from introductory questions as in, “What is your relationship like? ” to more analytical questions like “How has this influenced your views on interracial marriage? ” This type of structure will provide an atmosphere where the subject can open up gradually and also enabled the efficient use of probing when necessary. The interview schedule will consist of mostly open-ended questions but some yes/no questions will be used too.In order to get the most out of the yes/no questions, the questions in this format will require a reason for the subjects answer.
Only one interview per participant will be needed. All interviews will be handled in person at the discretion of the subject and recorded for transcription and coding purposes. I expect the length of the interviews will average out around 45 minutes. These individuals must be willing participants and will sign consent forms if they want to go on to take part in the research examining the perceptions of engaging in interracial relationships.The interview schedule will contain sections on social and religious background, issues and ideology, professional and personal networks, and attitudes and motivations on a range of subjects. During the recording of these in-depth interviews field notes will be taken comprehensibly to highlight important occurrences. The recordings, transcription, and field notes will be used to establish consistent patterns and themes across all the interviews that can later be coded.
Survey Plan In this research, the dependent variable is responses to the question, “Have you ever been in a romantic relationship with someone who was not [R’s ethnicity]? Possible responses to this question will be: “Yes,” “No,” and “Don’t Know/ Refused. ” For the purposes of this study, those whose responses were coded as “Don’t Know/Refused” will be excluded from analysis. The independent variables used in this study include questions about demographic characteristics of the respondent, including age, gender, race/ethnicity, marital status, educational attainment, and household income; as well as two ideological characteristics: political ideology and religiosity.For the ideological independent variables, two different scales will be used. To assess political ideology, a scale will calculated from a combination of responses to the questions, “What is your political preference? Would you call yourself a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or something else? ” To assess religiosity, a scale will calculated from a combination of the variable, “How important would you say religion is in your life? Would you say: very important, somewhat important, or not very important? The subjects will be promised complete confidentiality. Their names and other personal information will be changed and unrecognizable in the research write-up. Also, their names and addresses will be eliminated from all data-collection forms and will be replaced by identification numbers.
The file connecting their personal information and their identifying numbers will be kept in a safe which will only be opened for legitimate research reasons. This experiment is completely voluntary and no subjects will be harmed.The participants can drop out at anytime. Of course, I will go through the IRB consent form in order to assess the potential risks to the subjects and determine if the procedure is safe and protects their welfare. Analysis To analyze the research results, I will first read and review my data. This is an important first step in any data analysis, whether qualitative or quantitative. Qualitative data often consist of interview notes, transcripts, or written documents and records.
I’ll soon write notes as I review the field notes, transcripts or any other data.I’ll will make notes in the margins or highlight key passages as I review the data. Then I will begin to code my results. I will identify repeated patterns and ideas within my interview notes that relate to the research questions. Once that process has been completed, I will interpret the data by attaching significance to the themes and patterns that I have observed. These preliminary reviews may reveal areas that are being overlooked in the interviews and prompt me to allow time to address these in future interviews.Then I’ll write lists of key themes and review the data again.
Consider alternative explanations by looking for differences in responses or observations that I will record in my data collection. Finally, draft a report of the details of my findings. To analyze the relationship between these independent variables and the dependent variable, procedures will be undertaken. First, I will conduct an analysis to see which predictor variables may have a relationship with the dependent variable.Then divide respondents by race/ethnicity, and then by gender to see if the predictor variables are different among racial groups or between genders. Limitations Although trends in rates of interracial marriage and assessments of attitudes toward interracial relationships provide important information about current levels of social distance and the state of race relations, such measures have limitations. A limitation of in-depth interviews is that it relies on people’s memories of their lives, which is certainly clouded by age.
Interview responses are also prone to being biased.This bias occurs when members of certain groups (the more politically liberal, or more educated, for example) respond to questions about their attitudes in the way that they think they are “supposed” to respond in order for their responses to be socially acceptable. Every effort should be made to design a data collection effort, create instruments, and conduct interviews to allow for minimal bias. Interviewer must be appropriately trained in interviewing techniques. To provide the most detailed and rich data from an interviewee, the interviewer must make that person comfortable and appear interested in what they are saying.They must also be sure to use effective interview techniques, such as avoiding yes/no and leading questions, using appropriate body language, and keeping their personal opinions in check. When in-depth interviews are conducted, generalizations about the results are usually not able to be made because small samples are chosen and random sampling methods are not used.
In-depth interviews however, provide valuable information for programs, particularly when supplementing other methods of data collection.It should be noted that the general rule on sample size for interviews is that when the same stories, themes, issues, and topics are emerging from the interviewees, then a sufficient sample size has been reached. Surveys also have a number of limitations. The most serious weakness concerns the validity and reliability of responses obtained to questions. Surveys provide only verbal descriptions of what respondents’ say they do or how they feel about something. Responses cannot always be taken as accurate descriptions of what the respondents actually do or really feel about something.This is particularly true for behavior contrary to generally accepted norms of society.
People are unwilling many times to indicate they have engaged in behavior not accepted by their group. Conclusion I say interracial marriages are important to examine because they can be an indicator for race relations and cultural assimilation. Studies have shown that support for interracial marriages is stronger than in the past, especially among the millennial generation. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, about 85 percent accept interracial marriages.